Designed to encourage connection and engagement, Southwestern College's new suite-style residence hall signifies a historic investment in the student experience and the future of the college.
Following tremendous enrollment growth, Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas decided it was time to invest in expanding its housing offerings. In 2021, the college partnered with RDG Planning & Design to initiate the design for an entirely new residence hall, which when complete, would not only address the school's growing occupancy needs but also serve to enhance the experience for students living on campus. With an expected completion in Summer 2023, the three-story, 29,000-SF residence hall offers suite-style living for sophomores and juniors and incorporates multiple common gathering areas as well as a new fitness space.
RDG's process started by engaging students and staff to gain input and understand how the residence hall could meet the evolving needs of current and future residents. The resulting design reduces the size of private suite bedrooms to accommodate an increased number of amenity spaces where students can socialize and connect. These spaces, which include shared lounges and kitchenettes, technology-rich learning commons and a campus-wide fitness room, foster a sense of connection and impromptu engagement by encouraging people to come out of their rooms and mingle with one another. The study, lounge and learning commons areas are each situated on the corners of the building, offering ample natural light and views of the outdoors. In total, the project adds 92 beds within the resident suites, ADA resident suites, resident assistant suite beds and a resident director's suite. Located on the south side of Warren Avenue, across from Stewart Field House, the building's exterior L-shaped design creates a plaza that offers a mix of working and leisure spaces, with tables and chairs where students can focus on coursework and green spaces for students to engage in outdoor activities.
The residence hall's exterior finish incorporates locally produced Kansas limestone block veneer, a material used on many of the buildings across campus, allowing the new structure to fit seamlessly into the existing campus aesthetic. The project, which also includes plans for a much-needed 58-stall parking lot, was funded entirely by an $11.66 million financing package through the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Community Facilities direct loan program.